Articles (Blog)

What your clutter is telling you about your relationship. Part 1. Fairness.

Have you had enough? The bickering and sulking and avoiding and straight-out arguing is starting to be a real problem.

Their mess is driving you crazy! Or maybe it’s your mess driving them crazy? Or maybe, you’re both people who accumulate things. Maybe neither of you are really interested in tidying up. Or one of you is a neat freak and the other is super chilled about crumbs, wet towels and dirty shoes.

We were all raised differently. Even kids in the same family were raised with different ideas about pretty much everything. It depended on if you were a boy or a girl, the eldest, youngest, middle or in-between. It depended on how stressed your parents were, their lifestyle and their relationship with their own parents.

Let’s put that to one side. We get it. What we’re looking at now is two adults, in any kind of relationship, sharing a living space. With or without kids or elders.

Being adults, we have developed past the age of uncontrolled emotions and childish thinking. Right? The trick is awareness and understanding. Awareness of our own behaviour patterns, beliefs and desires and understanding the same in the other person. We can choose to change our behaviours and reactions to make our relationships better.


Ever see the movie The Break Up with Jennifer Aniston as Brooke? Brooke’s partner Gary is totally uninterested in doing the dishes. A little way into the argument Brooke says the classic line “I want you to WANT to do the dishes!” Gary replies “Why would I want to do the dishes?”.

No one WANTS to do the dishes. Except maybe when you get a new dishwasher installed.

But we know what she means ~ If you cared about me enough you’d override your lack of interest in the task, and override your desire to do what you want right now, and support me in this because I’m tired and need your help.

And we know what he means ~ In a world of choices that make me feel good and make me feel bad this comes in at the bad end.

But that’s just the first level of awareness.

Wait, there’s levels? Yup. Heaps. The second level is about expectations.

Brooke: Because we are partners and we share a home we should share all the work that keeps our shared home up to my standard.

Gary: I prefer to do things that make me feel good. I’ll do things that don’t make me feel good when I’m ready to do so.

There’s a whole bunch more layers, especially the bit where Gary explains he’s been working hard all day to earn money so Brooke won’t have to work in the future. Apparently he didn’t know that she wants to keep working. There’s just SO many miscommunications around expectations going on in their relationship!

The problems are arising because neither understands the other’s perspective. Even if they sat down and explained their different expectations, it might not help. They clearly want different things from their relationship. And there’s the title of the movie for you.

Clutter and the two of you.

Making a home together is something that a lot of people look forward to. Maintaining that home, might be something that no-one actually thinks about. Who’s going to do the laundry? Who’s going to cook? Who’s going to tidy each night after the kids have finished playing? Who is going to do this EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES.

Note ~ Sometimes it makes sense to re-assign tasks if it causes real problems. NOT because they Do It Wrong, either in your opinion or they do it wrong on purpose. But because it just makes sense.

You might be reading this because you’re stuck in a behaviour rut with your significant other. You might be fighting about the stuff in your house. Or you might be living in a soup of simmering resentment. Or maybe, you’re simply noticing now that something in your home is not working for you.

Daily clutter happens. That’s life. Having a simple conversation about sharing the load of keeping your house organised and tidy might just work. If the whole situation is a bit fraught, there might be other conversations needed first. They might be hard conversations, but they’ll be so worth it. Being adults means treating each other like adults too.

Chronic clutter is a bit different.

Do you remember how charming those differences were, between you and your partner? It was so cute when they had push that big pile of stuff of their couch so you could sit down. Cute. They might be everything you’ve ever dreamt of. But what are they like to live with? 24/7. 365 days. For decades… What are you like to live with?

There are SO many different reasons behind chronic clutter. But there is always a way to resolve it. It’s the same with the daily slog – the daily chores that create a workable, healthy, efficient home.

If you’re reading this it’s probably you who cares if the place is clean and tidy. Or you’re feeling pressured by your partner to be tidier.

If you both care enough about the other person and the relationship – negotiations, compromise and understanding will go a long way to making you both happier.

Let go of old patterns. Let go of old resentments. This is not a battle ground, this is a team game plan and you are the coach.


The Tidy Lady.

Declutter & Life Coach. Tidyness Expert.

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